Fantasic Fest Review: ‘American Mary’

Posted by Rod Paddock - September 24th 2012 @ 11:48 am

American Mary Fantastic Fest 2012Mary Mason is a surgical student with financial problems. In order to solve these problems, she answers a advertisement looking for a “dancer”. Arriving at a grungy strip club, Mary meets Billy Barker, the manager of this fine establishment. As Billy is checking out Mary’s “wares”, a problem develops in the basement of his club. He returns and immediately and offers Mary a quick $5,000 in cash for some help. The job ? Patching up a thug with razor cuts extending the length of his body. Job completed, Mary returns home where she is immediately contacted by an affiliate of Billy’s. The job this time is body modification and the price tag is $10,000. Mary is no longer a starving student but a entrepreneur with a successful side business.

Soon after, Mary’s instructors take interest in her and invite her to a party being thrown by a bunch of doctors. It does not take long to realize that Mary is out of her element, and soon after she is the victim of rape at the hands of  her surgery instructor. From this point forward Mary is a changed person. She decides to drop out of school and enter the world of body modification full time.

To understand Mary’s new world you need to learn a bit about body modification. There are two distinct worlds of body modification. In the first world we have “legitimate”, meaning legal, procedures  like breast implants, face lifts, tummy tucks, tattooing and body piercing. In the second world are we have an entirely different menu: tongue splitting, teeth filing, nipple removal, voluntary amputation, and many others that you’ll have to look up on your own. This second world operates on a completely separate legal and ethical plane. In this world, Mary is queen and her services are in high demand.

A demented product of the Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska , this film is a fun ride with a few minor problems.  One of the greatest elements of the film  is the concept itself. People paying to have appendages amputated, genitalia modified and horns implanted are all things we don’t generally discuss in polite company. To deliver this concept first requires a believable actor in the lead role. In the case of this film, the character Mary is portrayed by the beautiful and skilled Katherine Isabelle. Accompanying Katherine’s portrayal is her partner in crime on the special effects team. The special effects (mostly practical)  deliver a number of highly believable and cringe-worthy scenes that will have you squirming in your seats.

This film is not without problems though. The story has a number of gaps in logic. How the hell does a med student perform operations that take entire teams of experienced surgeons? Why would a college professor rape a student he knows well? There are a number of other logic holes, but overall they do not detract from the film.  Another minor issue I had with the film is the pacing. American Mary has a number of peaks and valleys. I would have liked to have seen some of the slow parts taken out. Finally, we have the ending. I did not like the conclusion of the story one bit. I cannot explain in detail what I didn’t like about the ending without spoiling it. If you see this film, let’s chat about the ending in the future.

American Mary does an effective job of immersing the viewer into a gritty and visceral underworld. If you are fascinated at the dark side of life this film is your E-Ticket ride to hell.


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  1. September 24th, 2012 | 5:35 pm | #1

    “Why would a college professor rape a student he knows well?”

    Most rapes are committed by people that women know and/or are friends with. There are several reasons for this. One, when the person is your “friend” you will be less likely to report them to the police and two, when the person is your “friend” you will be more likely to try and blame yourself for being raped.

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